Employee Formal Process

A university investigation is an administrative process subject to university policy and procedure, and not a legal proceeding.

The purpose of a university investigation is to determine what happened, who, if anyone, is responsible for what happened, and whether the university discrimination/harassment policy has been violated. 

The university has multiple ways of responding to and addressing reports of harassment and discrimination, including conducting a formal investigation.  However, not all reports of harassment or discrimination result in or are addressed through an investigation. 

Supportive Measures and Confidential Resources

The university provides reasonable supportive measures—including but not limited to counseling, modifications of work or class schedules, campus escort services, and other support services—for Complainants, Respondents, and other university employees or students participating in its investigation processes.  Students or employees may access these supportive measures and confidential resources regardless of whether a formal complaint is made to the university.  A list of resources is available on the Support and Resources page.

Initial Assessment

In order to determine whether an investigation will be initiated, the university conducts a preliminary assessment of the report to determine whether the university has jurisdiction over the conduct alleged in the report, and whether that conduct, if true, would constitute a violation of university policy.  If the university determines that it has jurisdiction over the alleged conduct and there is a potential violation of university policy, the university may initiate an investigation.  Investigation of conduct that involves discriminatory misconduct (e.g., conduct based on a protected characteristic, including sexual harassment) follows the investigation process set forth below.

Investigation Process

Notice of Investigation

A Formal Complaint is a written document, signed by a Complainant or the Chief Civil Rights Officer, that describes known details of the alleged misconduct, lists the alleged violations of university policy, and requests that the University initiate an investigation as outlined in these procedures.   Upon receipt of a Formal Complaint, the Chief Civil Rights Officer will issue a written Notice of Investigation.  The Notice of Investigation is sent to the person(s) who has submitted a Formal Complaint alleging a violation of university policy (Complainant), and to the person(s) against whom the Formal Complaint is made (Respondent).  The Notice of Investigation communicates what has been alleged, what policy(ies) may have been violated and outlines the investigation and adjudication process to be used to resolve the complaint.

The date of the Notice of Investigation marks the date the investigation begins.

Information Collected as Part of an Investigation

Typically, the information that is gathered as part of an investigation includes but is not limited to:

  • Interviews
    • Statements of Complainant, Respondent and Witnesses
  • Relevant evidence such as:
    • Texts
    • Emails
    • Notes
    • Photographs
    • Recordings
    • Documents
    • Diagrams and pictures
    • Other written, non-written, hard-copy and electronic materials

The university will not rely upon, or seek disclosure of, information protected under a legally recognized privilege (such as privileged medical or counseling records), unless the person holding such privilege has waived the privilege.

Timeline for the Investigation and to Resolve the Complaint

The university works to investigate complaints as thoroughly and expeditiously as possible completing the necessary due diligence to resolve complaints.  Generally, investigations are completed within 90 business days from the date of the Notice of Investigation. However, the exact timeline is case specific. Both Complainant and Respondent (hereafter, “the parties”) will receive updates from the investigator regarding the timeline for resolution.

Interviews with the Investigator

During the interview, the investigator will:

  • Ask questions related to the complaint;
  • Listen;
  • Take notes;
  • Ask for the names of any other individuals who may have information or knowledge of the situation and about what happened;
  • Provide an opportunity to present information and material related to the situation and about what happened;
  • Provide an opportunity to respond to the information that will be relied upon and other information gathered; and
  • Request that both parties keep information they share with the investigator confidential while the investigation is ongoing. This request is made to protect the integrity of the investigation process.

Presumption of Innocence

The Respondent is presumed not responsible for the conduct alleged in the complaint until a determination has been made regarding responsibility after the close of the investigation.

A. Process for Allegations of Discrimination and Harassment (Non-Title IX)

Once the investigator has finished interviewing witnesses and gathering information, the investigator will write an Investigation Report that summarizes the evidence that is relevant to the alleged policy violation(s).

A draft Investigation Report including the investigator’s summary of information and findings of facts will then be shared with the parties, who will be provided with 15 business days to respond to the information in writing.  The investigator will review the responses and if necessary conduct further inquiry.

Prior to finalizing the Investigation Report, the Chief Civil Rights Officer, in consultation with the investigator, will review the Investigation Report and make a threshold determination either to dismiss the Formal Complaint or certain allegations within the Formal Complaint or to proceed to a final determination of responsibility for the alleged policy violation(s). Dismissal is appropriate only when required by policy or when the Chief Civil Rights Officer determines, upon viewing the information in the light most favorable to the Complainant, that there is insufficient information to find that the Respondent violated university policy.  A dismissal decision under this provision may be appealed within 5 business days.

The investigator will finalize the Investigation Report and make a determination as to whether a violation of university policy occurred. 

B. Process for Allegations of Title IX Sexual Harassment

When the university is investigating a formal complaint involving allegations of Title IX Sexual Harassment, the procedures outlined in this paragraph apply in lieu of the procedures set forth in paragraph A above. This is because where allegations of Title IX Sexual Harassment are at issue, both Complainant and Respondent are entitled to additional specific procedures.

Once the investigator has finished interviewing witnesses and gathering information, the investigator will review the information and determine which information is directly related to the allegations in the Formal Complaint. Next, the investigator will assemble the information into an Evidence File, and the parties will be provided access to the file. The parties will have 15 business days to respond to the information in writing.  

The investigator will then review the responses, if necessary conduct further inquiry, and then draft the Investigation Report that summarizes the relevant information gathered during the investigation. 

Prior to issuing the Investigation Report to the Parties, the Chief Civil Rights Officer, in consultation with the investigator, will review the Investigation Report and make a threshold determination either to dismiss the Formal Complaint or certain allegations within the Formal Complaint, or to proceed to a hearing. Dismissal is appropriate only when required by law or policy or when the Chief Civil Rights Officer determines, upon viewing the information in the light most favorable to the Complainant, that there is insufficient information to find that the Respondent violated university policy.  A dismissal decision under this provision should not be based on an assessment of the credibility of a party or witness and may be appealed within 5 business days.

Procedures specific to the live hearing, including the additional role of advisors and opportunity to respond to the Investigation Report in writing, will be provided before the Hearing stage in the process.

The Title IX Hearing

Parties in the Title IX Process have a right to a live hearing where their advisors may ask questions of the other party and witnesses on their behalf. This oral and real time cross-examination right is unique to the Title IX Process. The Notice of Hearing will provide parties with the date of the hearing, rules of decorum and expectations for the hearing and otherwise describe the logistics and rules of proceedings.

Concluding the Investigation Process

The Investigation Report will be supplemented with a Notice of Outcome containing a determination as to whether a violation of university policy occurred. The Investigation Report and Notice of Outcome will be provided to the parties and to other university representatives, such as supervisors and Employee and Labor Relations representatives, as necessary to address policy violations and address concerning behavior. 

When making findings of responsibility, the university applies a preponderance of the evidence standard (i.e., asking if based upon the information provided, it is more likely than not that the Respondent is responsible for the alleged violation).


Participation in the Investigation

An investigation is how the university gathers information about a complaint in order to determine whether anyone violated university policy. The investigator will generate the Investigation Report based on the information made available to the investigator or information that the investigator was reasonably able to gather during the investigation.  Non-participation in an investigation by a Respondent or a witness will not prevent the investigation from proceeding. The university encourages students to fully participate in an investigation and expects that employees will participate in an investigation. 


Early Dismissal

The university has discretion to dismiss a Formal Complaint, either in whole or in part, at any time after the Complainant has had the opportunity to speak with the investigator. A dismissal is appropriate only in cases where (a) upon viewing the information in the light most favorable to the Complainant, there is insufficient information to find that the Respondent violated university policy; (a) the Complainant notifies the investigator in writing that they would like to withdraw the complaint or any allegations in the Formal Complaint, or (c) the Respondent is no longer employed by the university and the university determines that it is in the institution’s interest to not further pursue the investigation. A dismissal should not be based on an assessment of the credibility of a party or witness and is intended only in rare cases where a full Investigation Report is deemed unnecessary under the circumstances. The parties will both receive the notice of dismissal and shall have 5 days to appeal an early dismissal.


Sanctioning

Any employee found responsible for a violation of university policy may face disciplinary sanctions up to and including termination from employment. Sanctioning determinations will be made under advisement by University’s Employee and Labor Relations, following progressive discipline standards set forth in collective bargaining agreements and university policy, as applicable. 


Prohibition on Retaliation

Retaliation is prohibited by university policy and state and federal law. The university will not tolerate retaliation in any form against any individual who makes an allegation, files a report, serves as a witness, assists a Complainant or Respondent, or participates in an investigation under these procedures. Should you believe that you are the subject of an act of retaliation, contact the Office of Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance immediately so that someone may assess the situation and offer assistance and resolution as appropriate.


Advisors for Complainants and Respondents

The following applies to individuals who are not represented by a union:

You may bring an advisor to any interview with the Office of Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance (OICRC) and any administrative meeting related to a complaint which is being investigated or addressed by OICRC. We strongly recommend that your advisor not also be a witness in the matter being addressed by OICRC. Choosing an Advisor who is also a witness in the process creates potential for bias and conflict-of-interest. A party who chooses an Advisor who is also a witness can reasonably anticipate that issues of potential bias will be explored by the hearing Decision-maker(s).

Your advisor may offer support to you; however, your advisor may not speak or act on your behalf, or take any action that impedes or disrupts any interview, meeting, or the university’s investigation and resolution of a complaint. The only time that an advisor may otherwise participate is as described in the rules for the live hearing portion of the Title IX Process.

If you intend to bring an advisor to an interview or meeting, we ask that you complete the Advisor Designation Form and return it to OICRC before your initial OICRC interview or meeting.

The following applies to employees represented by a bargaining unit (e.g., United Academics, Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, Service Employee International Union, University of Oregon Police Association, or Teamsters):

As a represented employee, you are entitled to have a union representative or another advisor with you at any interview with the Office of Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance (OICRC) and any administrative meeting related to a complaint which is being investigated or addressed by OICRC, provided your advisor is not also a witness in this matter. Your advisor may offer support to you; however, your advisor may not speak or act on your behalf, nor take any action that impedes or disrupts any interview, meeting, or the university’s investigation and resolution of a complaint.  If your advisor is your union representative, the union representative may seek clarification of questions, ask you questions eliciting further relevant information, and may suggest other witnesses to be interviewed. The only time that an advisor may otherwise participate is as described in the rules for the live hearing portion of the Title IX Process.

If you intend to bring an advisor to an interview or meeting, we ask that you complete the Advisor Designation Form and return it to OICRC before your first OICRC interview or meeting.

OICRC communication with Complainants, Respondents, and advisors:

OICRC will communicate directly with Complainant and Respondents. OICRC will not communicate in writing with advisors except regarding scheduling. Once the Advisor Designation Form is completed by a Complainant or Respondent requesting that an advisor be copied, OICRC will make reasonable efforts to copy advisors on communications sent to a Complainant or Respondent.

An advisor may not speak or act on behalf of the Complainant or Respondent during the investigation, may not provide substantive information, and may not take any action that impedes or disrupts any interview, meeting, or the university’s investigation and resolution of a complaint. The only time that an advisor may otherwise participate is as described in the rules for the live hearing portion of the Title IX Process.


Workplace Fairness Requirements

State law makes it an unlawful employment practice for employers to discriminate on the basis of an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, age, and/or disability, and such claims arising on or after September 29, 2019, are subject to a five-year statute of limitations. Anyone who experiences workplace harassment may seek redress from the university by submitting a complaint to the Office of Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance. The university promptly investigates all reports of workplace harassment pursuant to the processes set forth above. The university shall follow up with Complainants who allege workplace harassment once every three months for the calendar year following the date on which the university receives the report of harassment, to determine whether the alleged harassment has stopped or if the Complainant has experienced retaliation, unless the Complainant objects to such action in writing.  Individuals who experience workplace harassment may also seek relief through the Bureau of Labor and Industries’ complaint resolution process under ORS 659A.820 to 659A.865, or in a court of law. Legal claims against the university or any other public body must comply with ORS 30.275, which requires a notice of tort claim within 180 days of the alleged loss or injury.

Pursuant to state law, the university may not require or coerce an employee to enter into a nondisclosure or nondisparagement agreement (i.e., a contract that prohibits one party from not disclosing information about or criticizing the other) unless the employee requests the agreement and is provided at least seven days to revoke the agreement. Employees are encouraged to document any incidents involving conduct that constitutes prohibited discrimination under state and federal law. See ORS 659A.001 et seq. 


Remedial Action

In cases involving discriminatory misconduct or respectful workplace violations, the Chief Civil Rights Officer and/or Chief Human Resources Officer may review the complaint, investigation report and/or any sanction to determine whether additional remedies for the parties or university community are necessary to restore and preserve equal access to the university’s education programs and activities, or to maintain a respectful workplace. Examples of such remedies may include the continuation or initiation of supportive measures, facilitated dialogues, and/or training for members of the university community, as well as modifications to academic, employment, or housing conditions or assignments.